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Submitted: 08-05-2003 by Holly Harris

This was love-at-first paddle! The Advanced Elements Dragonfly1 is not the first inflatable Iíve owned, but within an hour of my maiden launch, I sold my other single person (no names to protect the innocent) and itís been my steady companion. Living on a large lake, we have ever-changing conditions, from mirror-like surfaces to steady white caps, but the aptly-named Dragonfly1 flits and darts across the water.

Itís compact, lightweight, easy to pump up and - at a mere 19 lbs in the bag and 16 lbs alone - I can haul it around with one arm! Often I leave it pumped up in my storage room on the lake, and it only needs topping off every three weeks.

Because it is smaller than many kayaks - just under 8.5 feet long with a load capacity of 250 lbs - it zips along and fits like a glove. My particular Dragonfly is an earlier model - slightly slimmer on the inside which might be tight for some people - but the newer models have been designed with a roomier interior. The really neat feature is the foam/plastic sheet insert, which slips into the bow and stern (itís held in place when the bladder is pumped up), creating the feel of a hard-shelled nose. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it tracked and handled MUCH better than my previous toy. Itís easy for me to get in and out of, and steady, steady, steady. I even paddled out into the lake, jumped out of the kayak and was able to hoist myself back inside without flipping.

The Dragonfly has a 3/4 rugged fabric outer and hefty bottom, so I would not be concerned about taking it out around rocks. There are four pump-up chambers - the floor, main chamber, and two coam areas around the cockpit. This alone was worth trading in my other kayak, as the inflatable coam "splash deflectors" keep most of the water from running into the seating area. Iíve taken it through waves and minimal water gets inside as the kayak sits fairly high in the water and the rest runs off. It does come with a seat and is comfortable to ride in.

And let me not forget the rugged carrying case - unlike some, you can easily fit and fold the kayak into the duffle without having an engineering degree or a proclivity for origami, and still have room to slip in a knockdown paddle and foot pump!

But the grand finale is the price - you can find the Dragonfly1 for about $225 online - which is a true bargain for the amount of enjoyment youíll get out of it! Iím looking forward to taking it on my next camping trip! For sheer fun, I donít think you can find a better blend of quality, affordability and performance.

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